The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump

By Barry, Herbert,, III | The Journal of Psychohistory, Fall 2018 | Go to article overview

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump


Barry, Herbert,, III, The Journal of Psychohistory


The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, Bandy Lee (Editor). New York: St. Martin's Press, 2017, xlx + 360 pp.

Reviewed by Herbert Barry III

This book contains more than two dozen essays, all expressing fear or horror about the presidential performance of Donald Trump. The origin of most of the essays was a conference at Yale University soon after the inauguration of President Trump. All of the essays are concise and clearly expressed. Most of them contain a sizable reference list.

Most of the authors are M.D. Psychiatrists or Ph.D. Psychologists. Their principal point of agreement is that Trump is narcissistic. Malignant narcissism is a frequent label. Narcissism is defined as egotism, an excessive concern for oneself. Examples cited by some of the authors are Trump's claims that fraudulent voters accounted for recording of almost three million more votes for Hillary Clinton than for himself, and his claim that more people attended his inauguration than Barack Obama's first inauguration.

Trump has been labeled as paranoid by some authors. An example is his accusation that Obama secretly monitored phone calls to his residence during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

Brief essays at the beginning and end of the book convey useful information. A foreword written by Robert Jay Lifton "Our Witness to Malignant Normality" states: "the most powerful man in the world is also the bearer of profound instability and untruth." The author is famous for interviews with doctors who had served in Nazi extermination camps and with survivors of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The Introduction, "Our Duty to Warn," is by the Editor, Bandy X. Lee, on the obligation of medical professionals to warn the public, on the origin of the conference, and on some of the contents of this book.

At the end of the book, an epilogue by Noam Chomsky with Bandy X. Lee describes recent changes in the Doomsday Clock in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. Midnight is destruction of all humans. In 1947 it was at seven minutes before midnight. After the first week of Trump's presidency it was two and a half minutes before midnight.

The two dozen essays are divided into three parts: The Trump Phenomenon, The Trump Dilemma, and The Trump Effect.

The longest essay in Part 1 is by Philip Zimbardo and Rosemary Sword, Unbridled and Extreme Present Hedonism: How the Leader of the Free World Has Proven Time and Again He Is Unfit for Duty. The authors report that Trump is deficient in a measure of time perspective. At his age, over 70 years when inaugurated, time perspective for himself is inevitably limited.

A brief essay by Gail Sheehy begins "The narcissum and paranoia are issues, but the biggest concern is that Donald Trump trusts no one. …

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